Day 30 of new baseball book reviews in 2021: Go ahead and trip on your way out

“Moon Baseball Road Trips: The Complete Guide
to All the Ballparks, With Beer, Bites and Sights Nearby”

The author:
Timothy Malcolm

The publishing info:
Moon Travel
/Hatchette Books
712 pages
Released May 4, 2021

The links:
At the publisher’s website
At the author’s website
At The Last Book Store in L.A.

“100 Miles of Baseball: Fifty Games, One Summer”

The authors:
Dale Jacobs
Heidi LM Jacobs

The publishing info:
368 pages
Released March 30, 2021

The links:
At the publisher’s website
At the author’s website
At The Last Book Store in L.A.

The review in 90 feet or less

There was once a plumber named Roy Riegel.

The New York Times picked up on it in 2017, and then NPR. It was about this New York Mets fan who had died in 2008 and left as his final wish for a friend to flush his ashes in every Major League Baseball public restroom while a game was going on.

It seemed appropriate to not only start the journey with the Mets, but also in Flushing, N.Y.

“I know people might think it’s weird, and if it were anyone else’s ashes, I’d agree,” said his friend, Tim MacDonald. “But for Roy, this is the perfect tribute to a plumber and a baseball fan and just a brilliant, wild guy.”

We never heard if this task flowed well to the end or if it somehow got clogged up somewhere between Kansas City and Arlington, Texas. Anyone have some verification?

We’ve reached the first day of summer, and what seems to be the last day of our annual book reviews. It started in early March and concludes here, as many of us are preparing for post-COVID, get-out-and-breathe-some-fresh-air road trips.

If baseball intersects somehow in those excursions, all the better.

A friend and I are planning to hit the road for the MLB’s Field of Dreams game in Iowa coming up in mid-August. The trip will include several side trips when there’s horsehide to be found.

If we were to start a game plan today and uphold a fan’s wishes, alive or deceased, to make a visit all 30 MLB parks, here might be some entertainment value in picking up Moon’s Baseball Road Trips guide.

In his own list of Top 10 Ballparks, Wrigley is first, with Dodger Stadium at No. 4. The Field of Dreams is among a list of “best baseball attractions” along with the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, the Negro Leagues Museum in Kansas City and the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum in Baltimore.

It becomes a very basic “how to” book for those who’ve considered such trips, but considered trying to do all 30 parks is just too daunting. Instead, section it off and tackle it in pieces. He suggests a color-coded way dividing it up by way of the East Coast, Florida and the Southeast, The Great Lakes, Chicago and the Midwest, The Heartland and Texas, Arizona and the Rocky Mountains and, finally, the West Coast – from San Diego to Seattle in six stops over 1,300 miles that should take less than two weeks if done efficiently. He’s even got it laid out for a Day 1 to Day 11 scenario that fits in a tourist day in L.A. and alternates visiting Dodger Stadium or Angel Stadium around that break.

His highlights of Dodger Stadium: “It’s hard not to see Dodger Stadium (1000 Vin Scully Ave.) and immediately wax poetic about how the game is supposed to look .. It’s a deceptively simple ballpark that looks absolutely perfect.” And this was before all the renovations to upgrade a center-field front porch and navigation access to all areas.”

And of Angel Stadium: “Dodger Stadium gets all the love, but Angel Stadium (2000 Gene Autry Way, Anaheim) is arguably the most influential ballpark in America. .. Anaheim was arguably the first example of an American city that grew exponentially because of tourism … Angel Stadium may not possess the classic, unvarnished beauty of Dodger Stadium, but it’s a nice park that long ago pointed the way forward for how baseball is experienced today.”

From there are mini-stops for what the best seats are to look for and purchase (you’ll bake on the first-base side at Dodger Stadium so maybe avoid it, and club level works best at the Big A, as does the lower view MVP level in sections 411-426), how to get there most effectively, what to expect for food, if there are stadium tours available, where to shop, where to stay if you’re out of town (yes, the Super 8 on Sunset is OK),  and then other sights to take in around the area, including recreation and hiking.

It’s best to pre-read this before taking any baseball-related trip, but take along as well as to not forget some of the finer nuances of where you end up.

As a bonus, there’s a two-sided pull-out map in the back – one side is a general map of the regions and stadiums to visualize, the other side is the checklist to make sure you’ve got to where you want to go and document it.

Meanwhile, in “100 Miles of Baseball,” the husband and wife team of Dale and Heidi Jacobs are itching to get out and see the baseball world. How will they accomplish it, based in Detroit, and seemingly losing some of their passion for the game?

As the title implies, the map out a way to spend the summer of 2018 hitting as many different live baseball experiences as possible. In providing a map just after the table of contents, they manage their 50 games in 26 ballparks, starting in Windsor, Ontario in Canada, directly east from Detroit.

The impetus is how baseball games with the Tigers sort of became a chore for them. They decided against renewing their 2017 season seats. What could they do instead?

The MLB visits would be minimal — Comerica Park in Detroit and Progressive Field in Cleveland. Most times, they found themselves at places like the Police Athletic League fields, minor league games with Lugnuts, college games, junior college games, secondary school games, amateur men’s leagues … whatever got in their sight-lines, even if they were still wearing mittens and gloves in late March to fight off the cold.

“I tried to maintain a connection to baseball that seemed to be slipping away,” Heidi writes in the prologue.

“As we traveled around Southwestern Ontario and eastern Michigan in the summer of 2017, I started to understand that baseball could still have a place in my life and in the life I shared with Heidi,” adds Dale.

Between March 30 and August 29, ’18, traveling more than 54,000 miles round trip and spending more than $11,000 in tickets, they saw their share of rain delays (Chapter 2), managed to hit three games in 24 hours (Chapter 3), the NCAA Division III regional tournament (Chapter 6), the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League (Chapter 13), the Under  21 Canadian Baseball Championship (Chapter 17), and even a match up of the Tecumseh Green Giants 35+ against the Tillsonburg Old Sox played at Oriole Park in Woodslee, Ontario off Country Road 46.

They are so immersed in the experience that, even while keeping a scorebook, they only know the final result was 6-4, but they aren’t sure who won.

With the idea of what would happen if the couple went to 50 games in a 100-mile radius in one summer, they came out of it even more muddled when the 2020 COVID shutdown occurred as they were finishing up the final edits.

They conclude, without giving away any spoiler alerts:

Baseball is about connecting – with people we’ve just met, people we’ll never meet again, people we know, people we love and miss. Above all, baseball, with its springtime opening, is about new beginnings, about possibility, about hope. Perhaps that’s what we miss and need the most right now.”

How it goes in the scorebook

Pretty trippy even without a GPS.

As neither are traditional baseball books that we’ve come across, both easy to manage paperbacks are interesting in their own right for how they can teach someone about the ways to approach a baseball-related journey.

“Baseball Road Trips” is more something you might expect to get at the Auto Club but with far more detail about what else there is to get to en route, going out of town, and then while you’re there. Few details are left to chance. Opinions/ratings are welcome.

“100 Miles of Baseball” allows for a mindful, stay-in-the-moment experience as the game, and life, unfolds. The Jacobs aren’t necessarily seeking information on how to get from place to place, but to be present and aware at each stop they pick. There is at times far more detail about what happens in the games — maybe some tighter editing would make it a better read, because not every play documented is essential to what we need to discover. But at the end of the day — or the end of 50 days — it is a somewhat predictable conclusion about the game’s impact on their existence. But sometimes, you just need that reinforced. Especially these days.

More to cover

*Some of the better travelogues we have in our personal collection are three key ones by Josh Pahigian for Lyons Press:
=  “The Ultimate Baseball Road Trip,” with Kevin O’Connell (2nd edition), 500 pages, 2012
= “101 Baseball Places To See Before You Strike Out,” (2nd edition), 238 pages, 2015
= “The Amazing Baseball Adventure: Ballpark Wonders from the Bushes to the Show,” 238 pages, 2017

= “I Don’t Care if We Never Get Back: 30 Games in 30 Days on the Best Worst Road Trip Ever,” by Ben Blatt and Eric Brewster, Grove Press, 348 pages, 2014
= “The Baseball Fan’s Bucket List: 162 Things You Must See, Do, Get & Experience Before You Die,” by Robert and Jenna Santelli, Running Press, 287 pages, 2010

*The Moon guides offer such diverse background and planning for those wishing to take on things such as take walking tours of major cities, a visit to national parks, camping and hiking trails; conquer a list of the 50 best road trips in the U.S., and even revisit U.S. Civil Rights Trail.

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